Integrating Sustainable Development into Business Decisions at Manitoba Lotteries Corporation: FROM PRINCIPLE TO PRACTICE

Article excerpt

Editor's note: The Manitoba Lotteries Corporation received GFOA's Award for Excellence in the Management Services and Delivery category in 2006. The approach and actions developed by the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation are similar to GFOA's recommended practice on "Sustainability"

The Manitoba Lotteries Corporation developed a practical approach to embed sustainable development principles throughout the corporation using the expertise of existing employees and existing financial planning and control systems - from principle to practice.

PROVINCIAL REQUIREMENTS

The Province of Manitoba brought The Sustainable Development Act (Chapter S270) into law in 1998.The act defines sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."The act provides sustainable principles and guidelines for all provincial government departments, agencies, and crown corporations as a tool for behaviour and decision making and to be promoted generally to the private sector and general public.

This article describes how the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation (MLC), a provincial crown corporation responsible for conducting and managing gaming in Manitoba, used a practical approach to embed sustainable development principles throughout the corporation.

GAMING OPERATIONS IN MANITOBA

The Manitoba Lotteries Corporation is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. With 1,600+ employees, the MLC conducts and manages gaming in the province, operating two casinos, (Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Street Station Casino) and the provincial Video Lottery Terminal network.The MLC is also responsible for the sale of break-open tickets and bingo paper as well as the distribution of lottery tickets for the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. Net revenue from gaming operations goes to the province to support government programming for healthcare, education, social and community services, as well as economic development.

GETTING STARTED

The sustainability definition of "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generalions to meet their needs," is both broad and complex. While it implies the need for a significant shift in thinking to inter-relate economic, social, and environmental values, this definition can mean many things to a corporation.

Staff at the MLC initially related to sustainable development because of their role in "sustaining the corporation's economic growth," since net revenue from gaming operations goes to support government priority programming. Others related to sustainable development because of their role in promoting responsible gaming, a longstanding program to help ensure that gaming patrons understand how gambling works and that they play responsibly While these two issues are part of sustainable development, other social and environmental values were not considered part of business operations and therefore not evaluated or articulated to staff. Furthermore, the financial processes in place at the time did not support the act's definition of sustainable development.

It became clear that in order to implement the act's requirements, the broad definition of sustainable development and the numerous concepts associated with the term would need to be narrowed into a compelling governing policy that relates to business operation. It would also be necessary to modify existing financial processes to ensure that sustainable concepts were evaluated during business decision making.

Implementing the act's requirements began by preparing and adopting a clear governing Sustainable Development Policy and Code of Practice, which reads as follows:

"We recognize that our development can impact and is dependent on the well being of the economic, social, and environmental structure in which we operate. As such, with the help of our stakeholders, we shall integrate economic, social, and environmental considerations in the decision-making processes across all our business activities. …